John Jasper, a brooding, moody choirmaster at a finishing school in Victorian England, maintains a secret life that includes frequenting an opium den. His tortured mind becomes obsessed with a young student, Rosa Bud, who is engaged to his nephew Edwin Drood. When she senses the intensity of Jasper's feelings, she becomes frightened of him and avoids his company. When the mixed-blooded Neville Landless and his twin sister Helena arrive at the school from Ceylon, Neville and Edwin take an immediate dislike to one another over Rosa's affections. Although they quarrel and make up, Edwin disappears, and suspicion logically falls on the quick-tempered Neville. Written by
Shooting began Nov. 18, 1934, completed in January, 1935, released Feb. 4. See more »
After the first dinner party, as David Manners and Douglass Montgomery are walking down the street to go home, the shadow of the boom mike can be seen in the background on the side of the buildings. See more »
[addressing her students]
Ladies, a crisis is a test of breeding. Remember you're Britains!
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Raines and bevy of rich Dickens characters carry Drood.
Dickens unfinished novel is given a plausible outcome in this Universal version of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Made in the same year as two MGM classics by Dickens, David Copperfield and Tale of Two Cities, it may lack their production values but it does have a hauntingly dark performance from Claude Rains as well as a cart full of Dickens characters splendidly played by some London stage vets.
Edwin Drood and Rosa Bud were engaged before they could talk but are more brother and sister than intendeds. His uncle John Jaspers, the Church choirmaster and pillar of the community is obsessed with Rosa, conversely he makes her skin crawl. When Neville Landless, a hot tempered Ceylonese arrives on the scene he falls for Rosa and argues with Edwin over her. The opium addicted Jaspers growing more paranoid by the minute decides to take drastic measures in order to secure Rosa for himself by eliminating his rivals.
In the early years of censorship Drood takes on a lot of controversial issues most pointedly opium addiction. Director Stuart Walker manages to ably convey its dilatory presence without mention or the appearance of the pipe by way of the dissipated personage of the raven eyed, mellifluously cold voice of Rains and the delicious harridan performance of opium den mother played by Zeffie Tillbury. Putting ample flesh on the rest of the cast EE Clive, Forester Harvey, Walter Kingsford and Ethel Griffes as Miss Twinkleton ("Crisis is a test of breeding ladies. Remember your Britains".) offer rich Dickens interpretations of comic manners providing Drood a lightness that balances Rains brooding madness. Lacking the pedigree and lushness of an MGM production The Mystery of Edwin Drood does just fine with less.
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